Bububu-2. Crngrn Jrnl. Issue 15. Kazas at Zavala
Kazas turned up at the beginning of the year, on Christmas Day, the day when the Budvans were piling up oak branches for the bonfire at Stari Grad (Old Town) with the passion that is not typical of Montenegro. The bonfire was flaring in front of the church, children were singing, adults were drinking something strong from plastic glasses, the smoke was rising into the skies, the Holy Virgin was smiling at us, the air was soft and sweet, and Kazas and Julia retreated to the parapet, closer to the sea, exploring their first red Vranac straight from the bottle and glancing alertly at the bonfire. Plans were vague, resource base unclear, tastes of the customer blurred, the calendar unfamiliar; they did not return to Krasnodar in winter, neither did they in spring, and now half a year has passed and the full cycle has eventually been completed.
At the Zavala peninsula in Budva, in the classy Duckley Gardens community, Kazas will show (for those reading this after the 2nd of July – “showed”) a true new attraction to the public: about two dozen massive sculptures done with roughly similar aesthetics (they are all minimalistic and more or less abstract) still rather diverse – to a degree that some outside experts would not say they were all composed by the same author (we will come back to this later). I really enjoy one piece, a rock with a yellow belt; I like other pieces less, and I do not like some at all, but what matters is the combination and the concept overall. One author has created, within a very limited territory, a kind of a small encyclopedia of modern sculpture, and what happens to the space in that territory is as important as the quality of the standalone elements. Well, something has definitely happened. It is Valera and Julia (his wife and team-mate) who did that. They had spent months in the Balkans searching for the suitable materials, leaving at seven or eight in the morning, and during the recent weeks, when the black and white pieces were turning into colored ones, even at six as the summer was fully ablaze and they had to paint before the sun went wild.
How do you decide on the size of the sculptures? Based on pure intuition, or are there any scientific methods?
Depending on the situation, the space. So that you would not have to step too far back to see it in full… So that it would not suppress at the same time…
Sounds a bit abstract. I asked this question because of the way your works look – well, they are very massive. You know, in a residential community, a sculpture is supposed to be an ornament, whereas these ones are very enforcing.
A sculpture is meant to be enforcing!
This is the voice of an artist that I hear. In this place, sculpture is supposed to promote coziness rather that serve some artistic purposes…
The objective was to make the space interesting, non-standard.
You have definitely succeeded in that… Such a variation of a sculpture garden. However, in a sculpture garden, the authors are usually different.
This is not quite a garden… In a good sculpture garden, you do not actually see another piece when you stand next to the first one. Each piece is on its own. Here, the situation is different. You walk down a path poring over one after another. What has come out is rather gallery-type space. A gallery street.
Did you decide on the number of pieces based on artistic or practical grounds? As far as I understand, the street has not been completed, has it?
Correct, there are plans for a few pieces more. We started from the passages. These are actually navigation elements. To make it easier for people to explain where they live, at which villa.
This will give rise to interesting verbal practices. “I live next to such a chipped-off piece with something purple done on it”. Has this been a correct description?
More or less.
Let us talk about this thing – what was the technology?
I planned a different piece at the beginning, but there were no tools to be found in the country.
What kind of tools?
Diamond tools, for example, to take the volume off the stone.
So is a ball impossible?
A ball, an ellipse, an egg…
How technology-intensive are generally the pieces that are displayed at Duckley?
It was decided from the very beginning that the technologies would be as simple as possible. Welding and simple stone working. The deadlines were tight, the task was responsible, so I avoided any particular experiments.
Let us take this chipped-off thing with purple – how did you achieve this effect? How do you make such scales?
You cut them with a disk. Thin layers. And then you knock them out. That’s it.
And the depth of the cut – do you determine this based on a model?
Based on smell.
What do you mean?
Well, I decide it myself when I need to stop.
Oh, so it was you, not the workers, who did the carving?
Yes, I did both of the stones. Julia painted, and I cut.
And how much time did it take you to carve such a rock?
Two rocks, this one and the yellow painted one. Three days each, five or six hours a day, it was already hot so it was difficult to work like this longer ….
Well, ok, chipped stone hitting you, not environmentally friendly… By the way, we ought to stress it that we are talking about sculptures, most of which are integrated in the green.
Duckley has a very good dendrologist, Irina Kuchma. She will not let a single leaf go amiss. When this all grows and expands, it will be cut in such… monoliths. Although this is not her profession, Irina is great at handling designer tasks, she is very good at creating the green context.
We have been discussing it with Petar Chukovich (a local fine art expert, one of the founders of Duckley European Art Community — editor’s notes) that your sculptures are something like staples that pin the “green context” — all these plants — to the residential buildings that need it so much.
Something like that.
This thing is obviously covered with that sacramental Montana paint that you waited for so long, isn’t it? What makes it so “montanish”?
It sticks to almost any surface. You can apply it to a polished surface that has been wiped with a piece of cloth, and will stick. Very good paint. There are better ones, but they are even more toxic.
The toxicity hopefully ends at the painting stage, doesn’t it?
Of course, certainly! It dries, all the toxins get out, and everything is safe. No matter how you scratch it, there will be no rust. The color will stay for several years. And then it can be restored, there are documents specifying the stock number for the paint. Every color even has its own name. Irish Green and so on.
Did many people work on the sculptures?
A metal shop in Danilovgrad, a stone pit, workers here… There was a lot of work, but no sophisticated technologies were used as I have already said.
Then, would one person be able to do all that? Over a long period of time?
Not everything. It is difficult to do properly cut patterns from a metal sheet by hand. Those guys in Danilovgrad are very seriously equipped, they have industrial machinery.
In the winter you gave a lecture in the Russian Seasons, you showed two hundred photos of street sculptures from all over the world and made brief comments on each picture – this type of technology here, some smart location there… And while listening to your lecture I thought that your creative works in general are a kind of a comment to the global collection of sculpture. This looks like A, this is a clear reference to B, and here you enjoy the benefits of the technology… This is not a question of being “secondary”. I am a writer, a kind of a creator myself, and it does not really matter for me if what I write is something hyper-original or, on the contrary, very banal. The key point is that the author should get pleasure, and the rest – it is not even third-rate, it is “two hundredth-rate”. But. To write a novel or a rhyme, you do not have to invest in stainless steel or Montana. The destiny of a sculpture is to a greater degree dependent on the market. And the market is ruled by brands. Dead animals in formaline – that is that Englishman, plaster people looking like ghosts – that is that American guy. It is convenient for an artist to be recognized by the first note. Wouldn’t you like to have a similar gimmick, some signature form?
It is boring. Indeed, often, as I make this or that item, I know what this is all about and where this is coming from. Minimalism remains minimalism, there is always someone who has produced similar pieces before. Nothing special has been done there – except that a lot of sculptures have been put together.
Your diversified style is very well-suited for such a project…
Probably. As for discovering something new in sculpture… I am not sure that this is at all possible. It was all done in the twentieth century, no room left even to stick a finger (! — editor’s note). No base new things appear nowadays…
Can you give an example of some “base things” from the past?
For instance, abstract expressionism (in painting, this is an absolute synonym to our notion of “daub”, and what this means in sculpture – I will need to ask Kazas and then put this in – V.K.). Or Alexander Arkhipenko who invented a hole in the place of a face. Or Julio González who was the first one to use welding. Or Calder who invented mobiles. Or David Smith who was the first to use stainless steel.
You know, new materials appear every day.
Such innovations are so frequent that they do not count any more…
Maybe. Still, some of those ideas-that-have-already-happened suit you more and some suit you less, don’t they?
Of course, if we talk about a series of pieces in the some vast space, in a completely public space that is fully open, I would make things that are more proprietary to me. This would also be based on the knowledge gained before that…
Go ahead! What series — what are the “things that are more proprietary”?
Of what we have here – stones with…
With metal feathers.
More or less. In my understanding, this is not the best combination of metal with stone, it is better when the stone and the metal elements are equal, and one does not serve as a skid for the other. But that’s ok.
And of the other works of yours that I have seen – which are “completely yours”?
There were three stones in metal casings in Perm.
Those are good.
You see. Again, all sorts of people have done casings before…
And who has done that?
Tony Smith, for instance.
I will take a look.
Well, that is a fundamental one, he used to be number one in the States…
Then I won’t look. At Duckley, I liked the stone with yellow stripes the most.
Yellow… Again, I know how Isamu Noguchi worked with stone, I know a lot of other stone dressers. You can’t do without this knowledge. Knowledge is like a scale. You have to balance yourself and the others… Generally speaking, I am for the natural course of events.
I think, it would be natural for you to come over again in the autumn and continue. This is the unsophisticated still optimistic finale I have come up with.
- The project opens on July 2 at 19:00. Entry is free! Besides the actual sculptures, there will also be an exhibition of models and sketches – all as it should be.